The Fox/Disney merger is upon us, and Hollywood will never be the same. The days of the Big Six studios are over, and the landscape of cinema is evolving. While the deal implicates much bigger things for Hollywood rather than superhero cinema, many fans are primarily excited about the Marvel properties such as X-Men and Fantastic Four and the newfound crossover potential. Many are also afraid of the downfall of filmmaker-driven blockbusters and comic book movies. But we can easily have the best of both worlds. Here's ten steps for Disney to ensure that this merger is taken advantage of to its full potential.
1. Keep Fox a Separate Branch of the Company
Twentieth-Century Fox is full of many mature film and TV franchises such as Alien, Predator, Die Hard, Planet of the Apes, Avatar, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and much more original material. It would be a crying shame to water these properties down for the sake of fitting the Disney mold. I am confident that Disney will not do this. They’re not run by idiots; quite the contrary. However, when it comes to the X-Men, I’m afraid they may look over the bigger picture in favor of rebooting them into the MCU and crossing them over with the Avengers as soon as possible. But I think they should take a step back and see that they have a much larger opportunity here that should not be taken for granted. Here’s what they should do.
2. Do NOT Reboot
The X-Men franchise in its current form is in a great spot. Core team movies are being surrounded by multiple risky, unique spin-off series that aren’t tethered by normal comic book movie conventions. By straight up rebooting the X-Men in the MCU, we would lose all this material and simply get less films. More of the same and none of the new. This would be ultimately detrimental to both franchises and would ultimately lessen the appeal and variety of the comic book movie craze by restricting things from staying fresh. We have a ton of film franchises and trilogies in the pipeline related to the X-Men, all of which are deeply exciting. Let’s not spoil that.
3. Keep the Universes Separate…For Now
So naturally, I’m saying the X-Men Universe should remain separate from the MCU, at least for now. There’s no way to meld the continuities together without rebooting, especially with the X-Men continuity itself being such a mess (we’ll get to that later). It’s simply a much cleaner way to do things initially anyway, considering we have at least three more X-Men films coming next year that are going to be released no matter what, as they are all past the pre-production phase. But that doesn’t rule out a crossover with the Avengers. At all. In fact, it makes such a prospect even *more* exciting.
4. Introduce the X-Men Universe--and Sony’s Villain Universe--as parts of the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse
Ant-Man and the Wasp is said to introduce the MCU to the concept of the Multiverse. This is the perfect opportunity to cross these realities over while maintaining a much larger film output between the studios. Introducing the multiverse idea to mainstream audiences opens up so many doors. Sony gets their own universe to themselves, while still allowing for the possibility for crossover. The possibilities literally become endless. This would benefit fans, filmmakers, and executives alike. It could feasibly lead to much larger event films, and even a way to bring back old continuities for further outings.
Imagine Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi coming back to do Spider-Man 4, just as a one-off. People would lose their minds. That's more of a topic for another day, but the point is this: this would really allow the X-Men universe to remain its own thing while remaining viable for crossovers. But how should the inevitable Avengers/X-Men film come about? How do the universes come together?
5. Use Kang the Conquerer
I’m no comic expert, but I know enough to confidently say that this time-hopping villain from the comics would be the perfect catalyst to bring the Marvel universes together. Messing with timelines and parallel realities leads to the X-Men and Avengers teaming up in either of their respective worlds to take him down. Easy. Clean. Prints money. Next.
6. Getting a Crossover While Still Getting Risky Films
This way we can still get our foul-mouthed Deadpool films, the upcoming grimy team-up X-Force films, abstract horror flicks with The New Mutants, potentially great solo heroes like Channing Tatum’s Gambit and Dafne Keen's X-23/Laura, total wild card team-ups in development like Alpha Flight and Exiles, and the same promising, young, new X-Men cast. We can keep these franchises going. They have a ton of fans that would be sorely let down if they were all thrown in the gutter. There will be audiences for these films. Don't waste this opportunity, Disney. Maintaining this extensive slate will only make you more money and make fans happier.
7. Fixing the X-Men’s Continuity Problems
It’s no secret that Fox has never really cared about creating a clear and easily understandable timeline for its X-Men properties. Using Kang’s time-shifting exploits would be a great in-canon way to explain the continuity issues that have plagued the X-Men films for years. Crisscrossing timelines, parallel realities, it all just fits. Not only does this pave the way for future installments, but it also makes each and every previous film feel a bit more special. I have no doubt that we would all look at the series a little differently with this twist.
8. A Brighter Path for CBMs and Cinema in General
Keeping the world of cinematic superheroes fresh is absolutely key to preventing over-saturation. Many people are getting sick of capes and cowls already, and keeping each slate diverse and packed to the brim with originality will keep people coming back for more. These films will improve and stay relevant this way. There’s no use sacrificing so many properties just to shove one of them into a universe that can do fine without them. Because, let's face it...
9. The MCU Doesn’t Need the X-Men
Marvel Studios was built upon its B-list characters, and it has become the most profitable film franchise of all time. It has done all this without the X-Men. In fact, they didn’t even really need Spider-Man. So why cancel all these other X-franchises just to start a new one under Marvel Studios proper? With this method we would most likely only receive core X-Men films every few years, recycling storylines we’ve already seen before. Is that what we really want? Is that worth neutering and staining one side of the Marvel coin? I don’t think so.
10. What About the Fantastic Four?
Honestly, they can be full-rebooted into the MCU and I don’t think anyone would mind. Fox had three tries to get it right, and they failed every single time. There's no reason to assume that another standalone Fantastic Four reboot would be that successful, so they might as well bring them over to Marvel Studios proper.
However, they do have those Doctor Doom and Franklin Richards films in development, and those could be neat to see. It would be nice to save those films, but ultimately their loss wouldn’t be nearly as gut-punching as a full reboot of the 18-year X-Men franchise would be.
Ultimately, We Can Only Hope
We can only hope that Disney will handle these properties with care and respect. While I highly doubt they will mistreat most of the other content under Fox, their superhero properties have become a wild card and only time will tell if Disney is smart enough to capitalize on them to their full potential. In the mean time, let's enjoy all the films we're getting now and be optimistic for the future, because Hollywood is about to change forever.